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The Boys of '62: transcending the racial divide (Limited Second Edition)

Vaughan Furriers Maritime Junior Baseball Champions

by Frank Mitchell, General Editor
consultant editor Lynn Moulton
associate editor Virginia Houston
designed by francis Mitchell

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sports
list price: $18.95
edition:Paperback
published: 2009
ISBN:9781895814378
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Description

The Boys of ‘62: transcending the racial divide; -SECOND LIMITED EDITION by Frank Mitchell - 256 pp., pb, photos, news clippings, 40+ bios, indexed. A remarkable story of dedication, perseverance in sport and racial harmony when racial intolerance andsocial upheaval dominated the North American landscape. With an equal number of black (African-Canadian) and white players, they transcended racial barriers and dominated Atlantic junior baseball n the summer of 1962, and subsequently dedicated themselves to mentoring generations of youth, earning the respect and support of their communities and province. 2nd EDITION: Three new chapters: Roy Hobb’s World Series, Lt. Governor’s reception & Sport Hall of Fame about this celebrated team. A NS also Baseball Hall of Fame team with 55 years in sport and as role models within their communities; nominated for Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame for 2010 -and inducted into the Maritime Sport Hall of Fame in 2015. One of the first truly racially integrated sports teams in Canada.

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Excerpt

Prologue

The period from the early fifties to the mid-sixties was the time frame for the first edition of this book, which coincided with the period of civil rights protests in the USA and similar, but perhaps less confrontational changes in Canada. It follows the team until late in 2007. [The Limited Second Edition updates the exploits of this team and its members to 2009.] The early 60s was the time of Rosa Parks and the bus company of Montgomery, Alabama; the march, confrontation and bloodshed at Selma; the confrontation between Gov. George Wallace and John F. Kennedy, where the president used federal legislation and the National Guard to permit blacks to enroll in white universities; as well as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s march on Washington and his famous “I have a dream! “speech.

Much of the impetus for desegregation and hence integration was based on the Brown vs the Board of Education (1954) argued by Thurgood Marshall, where the unanimous landmark decision by the Justice Earl Warren-led U.S. Supreme Court, ruled that separate education was inherently unequal treatment and inferior education under the equal treatment clause of the 14th Amendment. This was also time of the official separation of races in many southern states. However the ruling on Brown opened the way for the integration and civil rights movements. It did not, however, remove violence as the Klu Klux Klan was still operating, and there were the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy, Dr. Martin Luther King and the crippling of Gov. George Wallace.

In Nova Scotia there were segregated seating areas in many theatres, no service in certain restaurants, while some barber shops would not cut the hair of blacks. Other discrimination in housing, education and employment was more subtle, but no less damaging to the aspirations of the African-Canadian population, or as they were then known as, the coloureds. It was also a cyclical and perpetuating discrimination where blacks were denied employment based on their training or education, but then received a poorer quality education or lowered expectations within school systems. One landmark case in Canada, albeit a few years earlier (1948) than the U. S. decision but rather closer to home, involved Viola Desmond1 who was refused a ticket for a ‘whites only’ section in a New Glasgow, N.S. theatre. The Supreme Court of Nova Scotia rulesd against her on a technicality, but it would subsequently bring about landmark changes in this country for equal access for blacks to public facilities and services. In 2012 the government of Nova Scotia officially pardoned and apologized to Ms Desmond in a special ceremony.

But as a reader you might ask: ”What has this to do with sport, baseball or this book?” Well the short answer is that segregation in sport existed as well, although the barriers eventually broke down faster in sport than in the society as whole - and the Vaughan Furriers were an important part of those changes. Black players were not permitted on white teams, so consequently the Coloured League (hockey) was formed in Nova Scotia, producing some great teams and many exceptional players. In fact the Coloured League existed nine years before Lord Stanley put his famous cup up for competition in 1893 - for whites only - whereas the Coloured League in Nova Scotia had begun in 1885. The same was true for professional baseball with the existence of the Negro Leagues south of the border. In Nova Scotia the Black Leagues or individual all-black teams in both sports continued right up to the mid-to later fifties, with several of the Furrier’s 1962 team members being connected with such teams earlier in their own lives; a few of the Furriers players even played or had close relatives on these famous early teams.

Quality black players in both baseball and hockey such as New Brunswick’s Willie O’Ree (who eventually broke the NHL’s colour bar with the Boston Bruins) and Manny MacIntyre, who along with Herb and Ossie Carnegie played on a single line with the Quebec Aces during Jean Belliveau’s time. They were dubbed the ‘Black Aces’2 and although they were great players, discrimination held them back, limited their possibilities in professional sports. Many readers are cetainly well aware of O’Ree’s and MacIntyre’s abilities in hockey, few likely knew they were very good in baseball as well.3 But major league baseball’s training camps were all in the deep south, as were some of their ballparks. The mid-fifties was still a time of official segregation in the south, so hockey wound up as the sport of choice for them as the north (including Canada) was somewhat less discriminatory than the southern U.S.A.

In Halifax, in the late fifties-early sixties, opportunities for blacks in employment, access to higher education, as well as many walks of life were limited, but the players on the Rangers-Vaughan Furriers were perhaps unaware of it. They had grown up with blacks and whites in the same neighbourhoods who played together, attended school together, spent time in each other’s homes. So when the Vaughan Furriers went to recruit additional players to build a championship team, they asked other white players to join them. It seemed natural to them, but in doing so they transcended the social and racial divide, performing a kind of reverse integration 4 that at the time seemed impossible in many segments of the larger society. As Jason Bruce wrote in 2007: “Although they wouldn’t realize it for decades, the Vaughan Furriers were trailblazers in 1962.” 5

1, 3. Northern Sandlots, A Social History of Maritime Baseball by Colin D. Howell. Ph.D. © 1995, University of Toronto Press, pp. 182-3 2. www.blackhistorysociety.ca/Black Aces Hockey 4. Colour Blind, CTV news documentary (March,2007) www.youtube.com 5. Jason Bruce: See the initial paragraph on the back cover jacket of this book.

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Contributor notes

Born Francis Gordon Mitchell on October 18th, 1942, he is a typical Libra, relatively balanced in his approach to life and able to see more than one side of any question. Politically and philosophically, he has always been an independent, and credits his ability with language to his grandmother, who lived with him as a child and taught him to read before entering school.

School always seemed easy, but in high school his interests turned to sport, playing baseball, soccor and hockey, becoming a goaltender in both sports. He was also a sprinter, running 10.4 in the 100 yard, a skill that would serve him well as an outfielder and base-stealer in baseball. He played most of his minor hockey and baseball with Dick Burns‘ coached and sponsored teams. Dick gave him his start in baseball, as he did with so many other kids who are mentioned in this book.

In total Frank played with 7 city and district championship teams in the two sports, with all of his winning teams in hockey coming in juvenile and junior. He played in six Nova Scotia title series, winning two and losing two others - in sudden death in hockey and extra-innings in baseball: he also played for the Maritime title twice. In The spring of 1963, he was awarded the MVP for the Junior A Twin City League, after People’s Hardware of Darmouth defeated the favourite Town & Country team. He suggests that winning and losing in sport helps one remain balanced in life.

He holds undegraduate (B.Sc, Chemistry) and graduate degrees in Education from St. Mary’s University, as well as graduate degrees in Education and Administration from the University of Toronto. Most of his classroom teaching career was at St Patrick’s High School and he still gets together with old colleagues from that school for an annual golf excursion entitled S.P.I.T. , an event now in its 44th year.

In 1977 he was appointed as the Co-ordinator of Senior Schools in Halifax City, a position he held until appointed as the Assistant Director of Education in 1988, retiring in 1996. That same year he formed a small publishing company (New World) that has produced over 60 books and audio titles, including eight Atlantic, five Canadian and one international Best-sellers..

Frank’s father was James E. (Ed), a well known local athlete and sports historian who played on four Maritime fastball championship teams. His mother was Yvonne and he has three siblings, Bill, Jim and Bonnie. He also has three children of his own: Patti, a litigator, and partner with the SMSS Atlantic law firm; Jacqui, an artist and Chris, a musician/producer who operates an innovative studio in Halifax producing CDs and sound editing for film.

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Editorial Review

Editorial Reviews Boys of ’62

A championship baseball team that wrote the book on breaking the color barrier; by Joel Jacobson Half the guys were black, half of them were white, but I don't think they ever realized the differences, although the society in the early 1960s certainly did. There was no divide among them; they accepted each other simply for who they were ... a good story for our society today ... it tells the story of who they were as individuals, not just baseball players.... The reconstituted team, now mostly 66, will compete at the Roy Hobbs World series next month in Ft Myers, Florida. --Chronicle- Herald, Nov. 3,2008

You're never too old to play ball. ; by Joel Jacobson Frank Mitchell, author of The Boys of '62, played against the Furriers team through the late fifties into the sixties, but the former teacher and senior administrator is helping organize the team for the Roy Hobbs' World Series and will be a playing coach/field manager next month .... The book, a fascinating 200 page history, follows the team which was 11-1 in championship play, as well as the lives of all 23 players and coaches ... Gary Furlotte throws curves with a snap - his easy motion and sharp ball movement fool the decades younger batters in an exhibition game at the Mainland Commons.... the hearts are willing, but the intensity and desire are still strong. "This sure puts the kid back in you", says, Dave Duffy, and Jim McDonald complains his "knees and legs are different, but I'm excited about this." Coach and former flame throwing lefty Gord MacInnis says "the players enthusiasm is unparalleled ... age will not dull our competitive drive." --Chronicle-Herald "Bright Spot" Oct. 31, 2008

Three More Editorial Reviews ... Boys of ’62 (First Edition)

A championship baseball team that wrote the book on breaking the color barrier by Joel Jacobson. Half the guys were black, half of them were white, but I don't think they ever realized the differences, although the society in the early 1960s certainly did. There was no divide among them; they accepted each other simply for who they were ... a good story for our society today ... it tells the story of who they were as individuals, not just baseball players.... The reconstituted team, now mostly 66, will compete at the Roy Hobbs World series next month in Ft Myers, Florida. --Chronicle- Herald, Nov. 3,2008

You're never too old to play ball by Joel Jacobson Frank Mitchell, author of The Boys of '62, played against the Furriers team through the late fifties into the sixties, but the former teacher and senior administrator is helping organize the team for the Roy Hobbs' World Series and will be a playing coach/field manager next month .... The book, a fascinating 200 page history, follows the team which was 11-1 in championship play, as well as the lives of all 23 players and coaches ... Gary Furlotte throws curves with a snap - his easy motion and sharp ball movement fool the decades younger batters in an exhibition game at the Mainland Commons.... the hearts are willing, but the intensity and desire are still strong. "This sure puts the kid back in you", says, Dave Duffy, and Jim McDonald complains his "knees and legs are different, but I'm excited about this." Coach and former flame throwing lefty Gord MacInnis says "the players enthusiasm is unparalleled ... age will not dull our competitive drive." --Chronicle-Herald "Bright Spot" Oct. 31, 2008

Vaughan Furriers: a history of their own by Tom Moore, Roy Hobbs Baseball

"What began in the 1950s when a guy by the name of Graham Downey assembled a youth baseball team that broke the color barrier in Nova Scotia has resulted in a reunion of old friends in Ft. Myers 46 years later. They brought their own biographer with them- Frank Mitchell, player coach - who is planning a second book in June/09 chronicling the teams adventures from 1957 to 2009, including the Roy Hobbs and the Lt Governor's reception upon returning home. Other players included outfielder Dave Downey, who held the Canadian middleweight boxing title for over 11 years, while Wayne Maxner, former shortstop for the team played in the old six team NHL for the Boston Bruins and later coached the Detroit Red Wings. But this was about baseball, the game everyone loved ... including retired RCMP "Mountie" Wayne Ross who traveled all the way from the British Columbia mountains for the tournament. The team was honored in 2007 "not only for their baseball achievements but for their contribution to youth and to their communities for four decades". It is an inspirational story. RHWS “Inside Pitch” (also on RHWS website) Nov.17, 2008

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